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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Raffy Tulfo falsely claims Duque restricts direct purchase of COVID-19 vaccines by private sector

Media personality Raffy Tulfo was wrong in claiming that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has prevented the private sector from directly purchasing jabs against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) from vaccine manufacturers.

STATEMENT

During the March 25 episode of his radio-television program “Wanted sa Radyo,” Tulfo ranted about Duque’s alleged interference in the vaccine procurement of the private sector. He said:

Lahat ng malalaking kumpanya na can afford naman sila, then let them [buy vaccines] para sa kanilang mga empleyado at malaking savings sa gobyerno iyan … Bakit ayaw niyo? Ba’t kinakailangan pang dadaan sa [Department of Health (DOH)]? Para ano, para sa tongpats (patong)? Ikaw talaga Duque ka o … hindi nga Duque, totoo lang. Payagan mo na kasi Duque, alam ko namang kaya mo naman kung gustuhin mo. Kaya mo naman eh, diba? Sabihan mo lang ‘yung mga kasamahan mo…

(All the big companies who can afford it, then let them [buy vaccines] for their employees […] this would give the government big savings. Why are you against that? Why do [the companies] still need to go through DOH? For what, [so you can] make a fast buck? Duque you’re such a … But really, Duque, [let’s] be real. Just allow it, Duque, I know you can if you want to. You can do it, right? Just talk to your colleagues…)

Source: Raffy Tulfo In Action, WANTED SA RADYO FULL EPISODE | MARCH 25, 2021 March 25, 2021, watch from 1:05:16 to 1:06:17






The video has since been viewed more than 275,000 times. But a shortened six-minute-long version containing this same portion of the episode was reuploaded on his official YouTube channel, Raffy Tulfo in Action, the next day, which has been viewed more than 1.109 million times on the platform alone, as of April 15.

FACT

Tulfo is wrong; it is actually a law, not the Health secretary’s discretion, that prohibits private companies from buying COVID-19 vaccines by themselves.

Republic Act 11525, passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Rodigo Duterte in February, allows the private sector to procure COVID-19 jabs, but “only in cooperation with DOH and the [National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19].” This must be done through a multiparty agreement, which includes DOH and the selected vaccine manufacturer.

Vaccines procured by private entities must be for the “sole and exclusive use of such companies, without prejudice to the multiparty agreement,” under Section 5 of RA 11525, or the “COVID-19 Vaccination Program of 2021.”

The law instructs private companies to prioritize their staff classified as healthcare workers, senior citizens, economic frontliners, and essential workers in line with the government’s COVID-19 vaccination priority list. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Marcoleta errs in claiming teachers ‘last’ in COVID-19 vaccination priority)

In a joint statement on March 22, DOH and the NTF said a multiparty agreement is needed because manufacturers “require” the national government to guarantee that it would cover the cost of adverse effects arising from vaccination “before finalizing any procurement deals.” (See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: The vaccine indemnification fund, explained)

Moreover, all available vaccines have been granted only an emergency use authorization (EUA), which means the jabs may not be sold commercially, and thus must be administered in accordance with the prioritization framework of the national government, the statement added.

EUAs are issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in times of public health emergencies to drugs or vaccines that have a potential to prevent, diagnose, or treat a disease like COVID-19. An EUA is different from a certificate of product registration (CPR) or a marketing authorization.

In a tweet on March 24 and reiterated in an expanded statement the next day, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. “has a clear plan of bringing in 160 million doses [of COVID-19 jabs] to the country from different vaccine manufacturers.” Of the aggregate number, 15 to 20 million doses are “for the private sector,” which are expected to arrive in batches beginning May and June, Concepcion added.

Galvez, who is also NTF chief implementer, said in a public briefing on March 1 that the government is targeting to procure 161 million doses by year end.

As of April 13, the government has administered more than 1.25 million vaccine doses, mainly to healthcare workers, persons with comorbidities, and senior citizens, since the government’s immunization program began on March 1. (See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: What to expect once the COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out.


Sources

Raffy Tulfo in Action, WANTED SA RADYO FULL EPISODE | MARCH 25, 2021, March 25, 2021

Raffy Tulfo In Action, IDOL RAFFY MAY MENSAHE KAY DOH SEC. DR. FRANCISCO DUQUE!, March 25, 2021

Official Gazette, Republic Act 11525

Department of Health, DOH, NTF: PRIVATE SECTOR ALLOWED TO PROCURE COVID-19 VACCINES VIA TRIPARTITE AGREEMENTS, accessed April 13, 2021

Food and Drugs Administration, Clarification on the issuance of Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the National Task Force against COVID-19

National Task Force Against COVID019, VACCINE ROLLOUT UPDATE, April 14, 2021

Procurement of private sector

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Talk to the People of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19), March 1, 2021 (Transcript)


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)